Six months ago, Santa Monica's Midnight Special bookstore opened in a new location after leaving its former space on the Third Street Promenade in February 2003 due to high rent. The hope was that the lower rents in the new location, less than a half-mile from the Promenade, and generous donations from its loyal customers would help the store climb out of its financial hole, but it was not meant to be. This week, the bookstore's owner, Margie Ghiz, announced that, because sales were not growing fast enough, the bookstore would close for good, sometime in the beginning of June.
Back in November 2003, when the store re-opened, Ghiz talked about how she hoped the bookstore could make things a "tiny bit better." Now that she's decided to close, she told BTW she feels both sadness and anger because of "how much we accomplished, and we won't be able to do that any more."
During the 15 months since Midnight Special closed its Promenade location, the store has experienced highs and lows. Ghiz had hoped to reopen at the new location by the end of June that year, but cited financial woes and delays by the city, the landlord, and the architects/contractors for the five-month-long lag in reopening. The store then opened on November 6, 2003, without fanfare. "We got the permits at City Hall and just opened the doors," Ghiz told BTW in an interview at the time.
The one bright spot was that the store's troubles clearly pointed out how loved Midnight Special was by the staff and customers. Every staff member returned when the store re-opened in November, and customers' response to the store's appeal for donations was resounding.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep the store open. In an e-mail sent to her customers, she wrote, "Unfortunately, the delay was too great and our debts grew with the delays. Though our sales were steadily growing, it was not fast enough to keep us going until we could sustain ourselves." -- David Grogan